Why Gecko was created

Project Gecko was something that I created last year, that I thought I would never actually bother with. However by April the first, I’d completely changed my mind which has left a lot of people wondering ‘why?’

It was January time in 2013 and I discovered an article on a US Government program known as Pandora’s Box. Unfortunately, this article has now been removed due reasons of ‘sensitivity’ so I can’t show it to you. I personally thought it was interesting, but some of the information was utter rubbish. I did however use some of the advice given, which gave me great success in a coffee shop on a Saturday morning.

Like everything in this world, their program wasn’t perfect, so I thought about starting a project like it, but from fresh data. There was however one problem with this, I had no idea how to prove it! I decided against the creation of Gecko throughout February and most of March.

In March, the year 11 prom was on my mind and I had formulised what I called “the perfect plan” which turned out not to be so perfect, because for some reason I decided to go all sixteenth century on her and write a bloody poem! Despite the poem being up to scratch by all my assessors, it failed. I broke off web development at that point, I wasn’t in a good place.

It was shortly after all this (April 1st 2013) that I decided that this must never happen again and that I must figure out all faults of mine and come up with a logical system. This logical system became Project Gecko! In recent months, I’ve shared this controversial project, however I never designed Gecko to be used by other people though which is why many people I know are either confused by it and in some very rare cases, are slightly scared by it.

 

A Rubber Band Situation

Terminology: ‘Rubber Band Situation’
Date Created: 02/01/2014
Is Used By Many?: No
Basic Definition:
A rubber band situation, is a time in a relationship when one or both parties begin to ‘stretch their boundaries.’ Stretching boundaries is often a sign that the relationship is healthy and is often said to be a requirement to prevent unhappiness within the relationship. There is also a case when it’s not healthy and bonds will break, if you stretch too much. If you stretch it a little in the healthy zone then the bonds won’t break.

Example:
John and Stacey were in a healthy rubber band situation and were happy

Don’t Flap like Flappy Bird!

You’d have had to be living in a hole not to hear about the latest mobile game to take the nation by storm. Of course, I’m talking about ‘Flappy Bird’ which is currently the biggest app on the i-Store and android market. Despite the game being free, the game is currently generating a revenue of $50,000 (£30664.42) on a daily basis and this figure is predicted to rise when the app flaps its way into the Windows marketplace.

Flappy Bird is a very simple game, it requires you to tap the screen to make a little bird fly or not tap for him to fall. Using this initiative, you must navigate through a gap in pipes and avoid any other obstacles. I say that it’s simple, but it’s really not! The graphics of this game are very similar to Mario and no offence to the programmer, but I’m fairly certain it didn’t require that much code compared to some games for mobiles. The game has proved to be very addictive and would appear to control your mind so that you always choose to ‘play again’ rather than exiting the game, which can leave people trapped in playing the game.

Now I’m not really a fan of flappy bird, but for some reason I found myself playing it on my computer and I suffered the same symptoms as above. I’m managing to fight the urge so far, but I don’t understand how this could happen. Maybe deep down I subconsciously like it, we can however learn a lot about addiction from flappy bird such as what causes it and in some cases how to resist it. The fact that flappy bird is viral also shows us that as humans, we still have no idea what we actually want!

Recipe for addiction

  • Make it simple – Look at how simple flappy bird is, I would imagine that it wasn’t too difficult to code either providing you know the language
  • Make it free – No one wants to have to spend money on a mobile game unless they really have to.
  • Make it challenging – There is no doubt that flappy bird is a challenging game to play
  • Make it available on mobile devices –  Mainly on Android and IOS
  • Make people hate it – Sounds stupid, but deep down inside, the people who hate the app, secretly like it

Overall flappy bird, love it or hate it, is the current mobile game that has gone viral. The fact that it is so simple proves that as human beings, we still have no idea about what we actually want.

Windows XP To Be Unsupported

It was announced back in August by Microsoft that support for Windows XP will end on the 8th of April 2014. If you are an XP user, chances are that you’re going to have to migrate to Windows 7 or the dreaded Windows 8 (which has received numerous amounts of bad press this year) or maybe you’ll go open source!

Back in 2003, when I was about 4 or 5, my father bought a new laptop running Windows XP. Its processor was a 500MHz single core, it had 8GB of Hard drive space and 512MB of RAM. I’m sure you’ll agree, that technology has advanced far much more than that now, with computers being sold with 1TB hard drives, 8GB, 3.6GHz dual core processors as minimum requirements. At that time though, XP was all the rage and has certainly managed to be supported longer than Vista. If there was a bomb on my back, which I could not disarm and my only hope was a bomb disarming robot running XP, it might be a little slow, but I’m sure I could depend on it.

What was the best part of XP?
Well of course it had to be the space pinball! Others may have liked it for its great support for programs and how easy the install was.

So if XP was such a great system why are Microsoft getting rid of it?
In 2002, Microsoft its Support life-cycle policy based on customer feedback. The policy includes 5 years of mainstream support and five years of extended support at the current service pack level. This means that the time for Windows XP has run out. Besides it’s operating system was not as attractive or responsive as Windows 7. You can however still use Windows XP, you just won’t get any more updates and your system is likely to come under great risks.

I’m an XP user, what should I do?
There are a number of things you can do.

  •  You could buy a new computer, which is recommended if your computer is very old
  • Upgrade your current PC which can be found here
  • Install a flavour of Linux which meets your system requirements

For more information on this topic, visit the links below:

https://www.microsoft.com/en-gb/windows/endofsupport.aspx
http://windows.microsoft.com/en-gb/windows/end-support-help

Tube Strike Begins

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How the Tube Strike will affect commuters today

Many of you will probably know that the London tube strike has started today (Wednesday 5th February 2014) and will continue for the next 48 hours. The root of the problem is said to be job losses.

The tube carries approximately 1107 million people every year, with the busiest station being Waterloo, which carries 57,000 people entering during the three-hour morning peak. It is heavily relied on each morning to get people from where they are to where they want to get to for both work and recreational activities.

The strike was caused when there were job losses due to closed ticket offices, due to more people using oyster cards and eventually bank cards. As a result of this, there will be 950 fewer staff, which would save a total of £40m a year.

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Waterloo Today

These ticket offices were closed on Tuesday night at 9:30PM, which was after

the day which both Mayor of London Borris Johnston and leader of the rail union Bob Crow each accused the other of putting a gun to their head. The unions however don’t want 950 members of staff to take forced redundancy, therefore this strike is taking place.

Transport for London says that so far 450 staff have taken voluntary redundancy, it says there will be no compulsory redundancies but that is on the proviso staff remain “flexible”. Despite this, there are genuine concerns from the RMT and the TSSA about safety and reducing workforces.

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They do know that there is a tube strike right?

A replacement bus service has been provided, but of course buses are not able to go as fast as the tube trains which don’t have to deal with the congestion of London. The guardian have stated that the speed of the buses is ‘a pace roughly similar to that of treacle sliding off a spoon.’

I must say that the weather is absolutely lovely for a tube strike. A spot of rain is just what we need. Apparently many people had no idea of this tube strike, despite it being all over the news and all over Twitter as well! Travel safely and good luck with getting into work today, it’ll all be over in 48 hours!

 

February flooding?

The environmental agency enforced a warning yet again for more flooding to some parts of the UK last weekend. Those in affected areas were advised to take advice from the environmental agency.

1-28 January 2014 rainfall anomaly map

Shows rainfall percentage in relation to averages in 1981 – 2010

We have had the wettest January on record with some areas of the UK receiving 220% more than the 1981-2010 average. This antecedent rain has caused ground saturation preventing infiltration and causing overland flow, which has run into rivers causing flooding.

One area which has been greatly affected is the Somerset levels, where the fire service have provided 10 extra pumps in an effort to ease the flooding in the area. The Prime minister David Cameron has promised to dredge the river parrett as soon as possible, which should increase the amount of water that the river can hold as well as its hydraulic radius (channel efficiency). Due to this increased channel efficiency, the river velocity will be able to increase, meaning that water will be carried downstream more quickly. This dredging could however cause flooding downstream. Roads and villages have been cut off for nearly a month now and around 11,500 hectares (28420 acres) of land have been flooded by 65 million cubic metres of water.

 

In Wales Aberystwyth university has evacuated its students in residence, due to the coastal flooding because of high tides.

In recent years, there has been a shift in the jet-stream. The jet-stream usually provides the UK with mild and wet weather, however because of the shift, we are receiving colder conditions and wetter weather.

As we move into February the question is will this flooding continue and if you’re not flooded, will your home be affected? Hopefully February won’t be as wet as January, however weather is ridiculously unpredictable, so keep an eye on the environmental agency website for more details http://www.environment-agency.gov.uk/homeandleisure/floods/31618.aspx

Alex’s Guide For Rescue Discs

What is a rescue disc?

If your computer is running or behaving stranger than usual, this could be due to a problem with your system. The most likely cause of this problem is viruses and other types of malware. Most people believe that anti-virus software can completely remove viruses, however many anti-virus softwares can end up infected showing more or less viruses in scans than there actually are. If you are running Norton, AVG, kespersky, Avast or malware bytes, there is a chance that this has already happened, although it is likely to happen with other anti-virus systems as well. A rescue disk, is a boot-able  DVD, CD or flash media device (such as a memory stick) that runs an operating system designed for the purpose of fixing these problems.

 

Who sells rescue discs?

Generally you don’t buy rescue disks, you download them from a site and burn the ISO file to a disc or a USB memory stick. AVG, Avira, Trend Micro all provide excellent discs for free and are very effective at removing viruses from a system. If you don’t know how to burn an ISO file to a disc, click here for an in-depth tutorial

 

How do I use it?

If you have Windows 8 or a system with ‘Secure Boot’, this might be a little trickier. In the past computers have used a Basic Input Output System (BIOS), but now Macs and Windows 8 use the UEFI specificationwhich is said to be faster and more secure, by preventing malware from attacking the boot sequence. This is said to be the main cause for computers failing to boot. If you still wish to go ahead with this, you’ll need to disable the secure boot, which I have included a guide for here, otherwise, I’m sure it will be fine.

If you have a system without secure boot or you’ve disabled it, you’ll need to access the boot menu, which can be done on most machines using ESC and F10 at the same time, and select the media device with the rescue system on it. Alternatively you could access the BIOS and switch the boot priority, but for most purposes the boot menu is recommended. Then the rest should be fairly self-explanatory and any additional help will be found in the PDF instruction manuals which can be found on the site of the rescue disc.

Any that you’d recommend?

I’ve mainly used rescue discs to fix computers with over 1000 viruses, nothing to do with booting problems, however I reckon that the ones I have used would do a sterling job with that as well. The ones I’d recommend are

I’d also recommend looking at this web post if it is indeed a problem with booting, otherwise the above should be fine.

 

Charlton Chase 2014 Aftermath

It all feels like a bad dream now that I’ve had some rest. I’m about 75% certain that it definitely happened and for some bizarre reason, I’m hardly able to walk. Here is my point of view for the Charlton Chase this year.

A Terrible Start

After arriving at Seaford College (which is actually in Petworth) we were rushed through the system. Tom Foreman decided that it was appropriate not to bring a hat or gloves even though it was CLEARLY stated on the kit-list. This however was a minor setback, as we had a bigger problem with our first optional via, which appeared to be  magically wiped from existence. We were however able to navigate to both nodals on our way to the first gateway checkpoint (Malcombe). On the way we sang songs to keep spirits high and powered up the hilly landscape.

The map plotting disaster

Shortly after arriving at Malcombe, the heavens decided to open, causing the permanent markers to stop working. This meant that China Graph pencils had to be used, which are utterly useless! The rain didn’t last for long, so with a bit of map drying and plotting, we were on our way.

Our finest hours

Despite our map plotting being extremely rubbish due to the rainy conditions, we were able to find our way easily through the next nodals and to on Broadwalk, picking up additional advice from other teams along the way. After reaching Broadwalk, we plotted our root to North Gate providing advice to the B team on nodal point 9. Whilst walking the singing continued. We were racking up a fair amount of points and I was certain that we had plenty of time. At 1:00AM Tom Thorburn provided me with a delicious bacon sandwich, which had been made by his mother, twenty minutes later, we reached a nodal where Tom Foreman was able to redeem himself by guessing the weight of his bag to its exact number (7.5 Kilograms) I think I might have also seen team 75 from last year, but I decided against asking.

Just Our Luck

After plotting our route back to Malcombe, we set out only to get lost in the middle of a field. After this we started running out of time very quickly! I started seeing things and the rest of the team suffered from extreme paranoia, in addition to this our team suffered multiple casualties, so we decided not to risk it and ended our endeavour at Malcombe. It is a real shame we weren’t able to complete the course.

The wait for results

The results have not been released yet, and I know many will be looking for the final results. I’m pretty sure that they should be up at http://charltonchase.org.uk within the next 24 hours

Charlton Chase 2014

So it’s that time of year again when many 15 to 21 year olds run around like mad hatters in teams of four, chasing a man who escapes every year called Charlton.

Of course I’m talking about the Charlton Chase event, organised and run by West Sussex county council’s youth support and development service. It takes place over a wide area that starts at Seaford college. This event involves navigating at night to certain checkpoints gathering points along the way by performing certain tasks (and bribing the organisers with chocolate biscuits). No chasing of a man called Charlton, I just made that bit up

This is isn’t the first time that I’ve taken part in Charlton Chase, last year I was the final member of Sackville’s Team F (Team 50). I served as a backup navigator because navigating just from a map and the stars alone is a stupid idea. So after an hour, things were running smoothly, already we had found two checkpoints and racked up a fair amount of points. Then disaster struck. An injury we all believed had gone returned to one of our team mates, a ‘muscle to bone ratio’ problem in the right knee. Shortly after this Tom brought out his stove and cooked himself some dinner.

After staying here a while, allowing our friend’s knee to get some rest, a team of girls came past and asked for directions. I’m not sure what directional advice my colleagues gave team 75, but I am certain they didn’t find it useful.

By this time, all of Sackville’s teams (including our team) have left for Seaford college. Our kit will be thoroughly checked, before being released into the dark. If you are doing the Charlton Chase, then I’d strongly recommend not to follow our directional advice, we’ve all trained ourselves to lie about which way is right and which way is wrong and good luck.

Winter Riders

I’m looking into the future mainly at February main sporting events to look out for. Lets start with this weekends super bowl, to bad that it is a Monday morning over here, otherwise I would have watched. So moving on to later in the month we have the winter Olympics, which for means two weeks of ice hockey free from subscription.

That’s my month highlights. Oh and finally my ice hockey predictions: bronze to USA, silver to Russia and gold to Canada. That’s my prediction, what’s yours I would be interested to know.

If you want to submit a guest post, you can submit it by clicking here

Chinese New Year, Year Of The Horse

So a few of you might be aware that today (31st January 2014) is in fact Chinese new year. This year, it’s the year of Horse.

Chinese new year often gets a lot of attention from astrological purposes, but it also marks the new lunar year. As you’re probably aware, the moon makes a full orbit approximately every 28 days. The Chinese derive their months using a lunar calendar which starts on the day of a new moon. The festivities start on the darkest day and continue until the 15th when the moon is brightest.

It’s said that the Buddha requested for all the animals to meet him before he passed from this world, in the year 483 BCE (Before Common Era, formerly known as BC) At eighty years of age, the Buddha was said to have found enlightenment and thus was dying. The animals were fond of him, so were eager to meet him and because of this there was a race to Buddha’s side. Each animal that reached Buddha was given a year. the full story can be found here if you’re interested in reading it.

Now many people like to read horoscopes and all that, whereas many others think that it is absolute balderdash. If you are however interested in that kind of thing, you can find information about it here otherwise, enjoy the festivities and the food!

My early computing days

Although I was born in June of 1997, I am still able to remember my earliest computing experience.

It was winter of 2000, I’d probably seen the old 98 before, but up until now it was none of my concern. My father had evening classes in MS-DOS at that time and was having a break by playing on Microsoft Flight Simulator 98. I was watching Pingu downstairs with my mother, when my father comes down and says he has something he wants me to see.

Now when I was younger, I had a huge hunger for knowledge. I wanted to know how everything worked, but only on an operational scale. This means that if I can use it, then it’s fine and I know how it works. To put this into perspective, I was able to use an old stereo player (which took up a whole corner of the room) shortly after my second birthday just from watching my parents. I know this because I’ve seen my baby videos, obviously using the stereo wasn’t a great achievement.

He showed me the computer only touching briefly on the ‘floppy A drive’. It was white and incredibly bulky. My eyes immediately focussed on the screen showing a black command line interface with MS-DOS written at the top. “What is this?” I asked.
“The ultimate puzzle.” He replied.
He showed me how to do various things including accessing directories, creating files and setting the time. After this he booted up flight simulator and taught me how to fly and land the 737. I can still land it to this day, although I won’t be trying it in real life any time soon

GCHQ tracking YouTube and Facebook data

I doubt this will be a surprise for most people, but your usage of the internet is being monitored, yet again by the Government!

the Government Communications Headquarters (GCHQ) which are Britain’s main security agency have been keeping track of YouTube traffic. There have also been similar cases found in Facebook as well as blogger and blogspot pages. This information comes from documents taken by Edward Snowden, that NBC news were able to obtain. These sources say that the GCHQ are able to tap into lines carrying global web traffic, to extract key data about the users. This initiative, called Squeaky Dolphin, intends to put broad data trends into context with world events and give the intelligence community a heads up for future anti-government happenings and conspiracies. Whats more is that this data is said to be shared with the US.

The GCHQ says claims that it’s work is within the limits of the law, while the NSA have stated “we are only interested in the communication activities of valid foreign intelligence targets”. Both Google and Facebook claim to be unaware of this spying and neither had given permission in any way shape or form to the UK government to do so. All I can say is that if they found my messages, I hope they enjoyed the ones that I wrote about the castle of glass and the one about the blind man

I highly doubt that…

Every week, my father complains about his computer. To give you a better idea of the picture here, it’s a four-year old Toshiba which he bought from comet (who have now closed) for £349.99 that runs Windows 7.

About 2 years ago we performed a test study on the best propriety security software out of McAfee, Norton and Trend Micro for cyber security. After completing the study, we found that Trend Micro was the best for our purposes. 2 years on I’m using Linux to control all incoming and outgoing data to provide extra security for the whole family.

On boxing day, we received the latest version of Trend Micro Titanium Security 2014, which installed in about 20 minutes on the windows side of my computer with absolutely no problems. It took about an hour for my father with multiple problems. He failed to use the golden rule of computers, if it doesn’t work, turn it off and on again. I was impressed with the new interface, while my father caring not for interface design said “It looks exactly the same. “ It really wasn’t the same.

All was fine after the install for my father, until last Friday (24th Jan 2014) in which he claimed that Trend Micro was preventing Google Chrome to boot. What really annoyed me is that he still can’t pronounce the name of the software correctly after 2 years of usage.  apparently micro is pronounced ‘micra’. It’s exactly like those people who pronounce the silent ‘G’ in the gnome interface in versions of Ubuntu  prior to precise pangolin (12.04 LTS). I understand the logic for this, however the proof of the pudding is in the tasting. “I highly doubt that!” I told him. I ended the Trend Micro process and the Google Chrome process and there was still no change. He wasn’t too happy by this and so went downstairs and started playing on his tablet. Just typical.

How to perform a GRUB rescue

Introduction to GRUB Rescue

For those who don’t know, Grub stands for GRand unified boot loader and it’s commonly used for booting Linux.

My first experience of dual booting with a Linux operating system was very nerve-racking. After the most tense 30 minutes of my life, I was greeted with a command line interface with GRUB> on it. This was shortly followed by panic, because if GRUB fails to boot, you have no access to any of your operating systems. In the end I inserted my boot discs (thank God for Asus AI recovery) and was able to restore my system back to normal. A month later I tried again and had no hassle whatsoever

Of course GRUB rescue is painful, not for the computer itself, but for you its user. before I get started on how to fix this problem, I’ll explain why this might appear on-screen

  •  The Boot folder is broken Files can become corrupted and damaged or maybe the file has been deleted
  • The boot loader can’t find the boot folder – Maybe you have changed the partitions
  • You have no swap area – Linux uses swap areas for extra additional memory, for reasons of just in case (the J.I.C rule)

How to fix

Try the following commands first, removing any external storage devices.

  1. type in ls to view all your partitions – this will bring up all your partitions, each hd0 is a partition.
  2. find boot in one of the partitions – you can do this by using the ls command eg. ls (hd0)/ . If you can’t find any /boot in any of the partitions, then scroll down to the next method
  3. Set the boot to the prefix and root eg if your partition is hd0,msdos5: set prefix="(hd0,msdos5)/boot/grub"
    set root="(hd0,msdos5)"
  4. Insmod – Then just type in insmod normal
    normal
    this should bring up the GRUB boot loader
  5. Boot into your Linux distro – Just press enter
  6. After logging in enter the terminal – Press CTRL ALT and T at the same time to bring up a terminal and type in sudo su
  7. Install GRUB to Sda – Finally type in grub-install /dev/sda to get it all working again

If the above didn’t work, then we’re going to have to reinstall GRUB and your distribution of Linux.

 

Reinstalling Linux correctly

  1. Insert your live CD and boot into it
  2. Click on install
  3. select your language
  4. Acknowledge any information on-screen
  5. Click something else
  6. delete any current partitions with Linux on them, which should give you some free space
  7. Add a new partition by pressing the plus sign on the screen. Make it logical, about the same size as the RAM, change from EXT4 to Swap Area
  8. Then with the rest of your free space, add a new partition, make it primary and change the mount point to ‘/’
  9. Finally ensure the device for boot loader installation is /dev/sda (most computers) or /dev/hda (older computers with the exception of virtual box)

That’s it, complete the rest of the install and reboot the computer! If you’re still having problems, then contact me and I might be able to help you. I hope some of you have found this useful, if you have, please comment and share this post.

Kingsoft Office Review

We’ve all heard of Microsoft Office and open office. If you’re on Linux, maybe you’ve got libre office and if you own an android device you’ve probably got Polaris office. While open office and libre office are free, their interfaces are utterly rubbish compared to a version of Microsoft Office, so what other alternatives do we have?

Kingsoft Office is the latest innovation developed by Zhuhai in China. It includes an interface very similar to Microsoft Office across writer (effectively word), Spreadsheet (effectively Excel) and presentation (effectively powerpoint) Download can be found here. This software is free!

Screenshot from 2014-01-24 19:11:11

Is Kingsoft Office any good?

Overall

Kingsoft Office is available for Windows, Linux and Android devices, however I will only be reviewing on the Linux and Windows platform.
Overall I was impressed by how well it performed and how it looked for a free office program. All interfaces were clear and I was able to use them as if kingsoft office was in fact a version of Microsoft Office 2010. There is even an option to switch its styling to an interface which looks more like the 2003 version of Microsoft Office which would be perfect for those who are more tailored to that version of the office suite. I personally think it is an amazing office suite, with a nice modern design even allowing you to automatically save in a Microsoft office format in the options. I give this product 4/5 because I did not agree with some of the styling in the Linux version of spreadsheet. It may just be a problem my end though. In addition to this, there were limited transitional effects in presentation. I would also love to see a fully integrated version, in which you could switch to spreadsheet, presentation or writer from any of the programs in the kingsoft office suite.

Installation

Relatively easy to install on all devices. .Apk file on android, an .exe on windows. On Linux, it was NOT available on the downloads page, instead you had to do a wget, build and install the package. This caused my terminal to freeze and my computer ran slowly. After a reboot, this problem was soon sorted though and I was ready for some testing.

Writer

Contains tabs which is ingenious! Just press the plus and you get a new document. It was very easy to navigate the menus. It was also easy to install languages and dictionaries. This is something I didn’t really have to do, but it’s good to know that the option is there for reasons of Just in Case. The crop is something I tend to use a lot and libre office (the default for Linux) it is absolutely terrible, but in kingsoft office, they have managed to tailor the experience to be similar to that of Microsoft word which is brilliant. In addition to this, libre would often freeze, but kingsoft office appears to be perfectly tailored not to freeze on the Linux environment. I got the same performance results on the windows platform.

Spreadsheet

The styling on the Linux version for this was definitely not to my linking. For me, Excel is the best part of Microsoft Office, but spreadsheet is most certainly  not the best part of Kingsoft office for me, I much preferred writer! Again, there was a wonderful intuitive system at startup, but the system on Linux seemed less high quality, but then again I suppose it is in Alpha for Linux. The performance was fast and fluid like before and the functionality you would need in excel was there.

Presentation

Many transitional effects, such as honeycomb which can be found in Microsoft Office 2010, were not present. The interface however was intuitive and easy to use. It did however allow background music to be played, it allowed notes for speakers, pre-made organisational charts to be added, which I’m sure would be incredibly helpful.

Download Links

Kingsoft Office For Windows: http://www.kingsoftstore.co.uk/download/index.html

Android: http://www.kingsoftstore.co.uk/download/index.html

Ubuntu based Linux distros: http://www.noobslab.com/2013/05/microsoft-office-alternative-kingsoft.html

I hope you have enjoyed reading this and if you’re an Ubuntu or Linux Mint user, I would strongly recommend giving this a go. It is so much better to use than Libre Office! If you have any queries about the installation of this software, please contact me and I’d be happy to help you. Any opinions feel free to share with me and I’ll post them on this blog.

Mobile may not be the future but it is the present…

Mobile devices are everywhere, in fact in the past 4 years, mobile browsing has sky-rocketed. In addition to this, you are more likely to see tablets and smart phones rather than a trusty ol’ laptop in a regular coffee shop. This has been a big hassle for web developers who have had to mobilise web pages so that it is suitable to be viewed by various mobile devices. In more recent years responsive style-sheets and WordPress themes have been rolled out to tackle the problem, but many web developers just make a separate style-sheet which is able to detect mobile devices and display the site running a mobile friendly theme. Despite all this, it is utterly stupid that mobile phones cannot adapt the pages themselves to make the site mobile friendly.

The way that phones adapt most websites is not at all helpful, you often have to zoom in and out on a regular basis. I often hear people say “this website is terrible”, when talking about websites not optimised for your tablet or your smart phone. They’ll continue to moan and winge about it like a three child who wants ice cream and won’t take no for an answer. To people who are like this, I say the following sentence to them “Perhaps you would like to make a website and then mobilise it.” This gives a few different responses

  1. “Okay I will then”
  2. “That’s stupid they’re the developer”
  3. “I think I’ll give that a miss thanks”

This brings me on to my next point though, what’s to say in a few years time that augmented reality becomes available to everyone. Maybe mobiles will have gone, I highly doubt this though. I reckon mobiles will be like a bad smell that refuses to go away.  Mobile might be the present, but is it the future? I guess we’ll find out soon enough and until then , we’ll have to keep mobilising our sites!

Sussex Study Experience

On Wednesday the 22nd January 2014, I took part in the first session of the Sussex study experience (S.S.E) at Sussex University in Brighton. During this day, I met some like-minded people including a computer science student called Fred. I must say, I’ve never spent £6 on lunch before (The most is about £5.09), so that was quite a novelty.

After  an hour of feeling sick in the back of a minibus, we arrived at the Sussex University campus and were greeted immediately by people wearing sky blue hoodies which had the words “Ever thought about uni?” printed on the back of them in a suitable font . They showed us into Falmer house where we were given plenty of freebies, including a pen, a pencil, a ruler, a pencil-case, a notebook, a name badge with our chosen subject and a printed version of the prospectus (the item that I was most pleased to see) all in a bag. The timetable had said registration and refreshments, so after grabbing the necessaries, I opted for a cup of tea and a non-existent biscuit, describing my preference of tea to almost everyone in the room before taking a seat. Future thinking was definitely not what I was expecting, I thought it was a note taking exercise. A man known as Karim ran the workshop and  told us that many people mispronounce his name. The best way to remember his name was to think of strawberries and Karim (cream) or at least that is what he said. So after explaining some information on the left and right side of the brain, which I’d heard sometime ago in exam season when I was listening to BBC Radio 4, he involved us all in some activities including writing something without thinking for 180 seconds (3 minutes), which somewhat resembled a dream I had in the previous week,  how many uses could you personally think of for a paper clip and other intricate activities which could be referred to by other members of the public as “daft”.

After this we were given vouchers for lunch. Surprisingly, I did not take a picture of the burger which was in front of me, I’m not that sort of person. We were then taken on a tour of the campus, although we were only shown the library in full detail, which apparently shut early on Saturdays.  I thought was a little bit strange, but then again who would spend their Saturday night in a library? We did manage to lose a person referred to as the ‘chatty one’, who had probably made a trip to the loo.

We were then taken to a class room in which we were shown various Physics “experiments” involving dry ice (not -290°C, which is in fact colder than absolute zero) , an air compressor, a plasma ball, a very powerful magnet and a “Gauss Gun”. The tutors consisted of an astrophysicist and a particle physicist. They had also brought along some graduates. On leaving the room, we thanked the tutors and graduates moving down a flight of stairs into a hall where a special game of bingo was being held, in which you had to go round and find people who had certain traits on the sheet. I was utterly useless at collecting the information, but helped a lot of people out who required an instrumentalist and someone who could knit (one of my talents that I’m not so proud of)

The team building exercise was certainly an interesting one, it involved a future in which unnamed aliens had taken over the planet and wanted to abolish a subject and we had to produce an argument into why our subject should not be abolished. The overriding congregation opted for the approach all subjects need physics, we don’t need them. This could be described by other people as an arrogant approach, however we did use clear reasoning.  Here are some of the points brought up:

What would if happen never Physics existed?

  • Without Physics we’d have no means of transport including aircraft
  • We’d have no X-rays, MRI’s or medical equipment
  • We’d have no filament lamp which would mean lighting would never exist
  • No CCDs which are used in most modern-day cameras

In relation to subjects

  • Law – The laws of Physics are constant, laws get changed all the time
  • Media – Without CCDs digital media wouldn’t exist
  • English – We could always communicate in another language
  • Geography – You can’t take decent measurements, sending Geography back to a subject purely based on describing.
  • HistoryWithout Physics, some significant historical dates would cease to exist

There are probably a few points which I’ve missed here and some which probably never made it into the actual presentation itself, so I apologise  if I missed anything.

I’d like to congratulate our speakers for such great execution of the words you said and your extraordinary commitment to Physics.

After the presentation was over, there was a survey which took about half an hour, so I sat with Jared while we waited for people from Sackville to finish up. Sackville left the lecture hall and so we were the last ones out, yet the first to reach the minibus, arriving about ten minutes before. Overall I thought it was a great first session and I look forward to the next one which is on the 5th of February

 

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